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Trump Will Get A Private Lawyer To Handle Russia Investigations

14 hours 50 min ago

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President Trump has reportedly enlisted a private attorney to help him beat back the investigations into any potential collusion between his campaign and the Russian government.

Marc Kasowitz, Trump's reported pick, is a partner at Kasowitz, Benson, Torres and Friedman. That happens to be the firm where former Sen. Joe Lieberman currently works. And Lieberman is rumored to be Trump's top choice for FBI director.

SEE MORE: Trump Reportedly Asked Intel Chiefs To Deny Evidence In Russia Probe

Kasowitz has represented Trump several times in the past. During the campaign, he sent an angry letter to The New York Times demanding it pull down its coverage of sexual assault claims against Trump.

The White House already has a lawyer on staff, but his job is more focused on defending the office of the president, not the individual. A personal lawyer can also invoke attorney-client privilege to keep legal advice confidential; federal employees don't have that luxury.

Trump might not be alone, either — Politico reports that some West Wing employees are searching around for affordable private legal help in case they get caught up in an investigation.

Stephen Colbert Won't Face Discipline For His Foul-Mouthed Trump Joke

15 hours 14 min ago

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Stephen Colbert is officially off the hook after he was investigated by the Federal Communications Commission for a foul-mouthed rant against President Trump.

The FCC said it would investigate "The Late Show" after Colbert blasted Trump for insulting a CBS reporter.

"You talk like a sign-language gorilla that got hit in the head. In fact, the only thing your mouth is good for is being Vladimir Putin's ---- holster," Colbert said on "The Late Show."

After reviewing the footage, the FCC said in a statement, "There was nothing actionable under the FCC's rules."

SEE MORE: Stephen Colbert's Trump-Putin Joke Must Pass This Government Test

"The Late Show" airs during the FCC's safe harbor period, between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. In safe harbor, TV stations don't have to follow the same profanity rules as they do during the day.

The investigation led to accusations of free speech suppression, but the FCC is technically required to look into every complaint it gets.

Colbert said he probably should've toned down the language, but stood by the sentiment.

The comments immediately drew criticism, including from Trump himself. He called Colbert a "no-talent guy," which didn't seem to bother Colbert in the least.

"The president of the United States has personally come after me and my show. And there's only one thing to say," Colbert said before he started laughing.

'No Fun League' No Longer: NFL Cuts Some Celebration Penalties

16 hours 46 min ago

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One of the biggest complaints that NFL fans have about the league is going away.

Commissioner Roger Goodell announced the NFL is relaxing some of the rules against celebrations that helped it earn the nickname "No Fun League."

Players will now be able to use the ball as a prop, celebrate on the ground and dance with their teammates after a score.

The NFL isn't throwing out all excessive celebration penalties, though. Referees will still flag players for celebrations that could slow down the game, jeopardize player safety or give young fans the wrong impression.

SEE MORE: Tom Brady Is Taking On His Toughest Opponent: The Madden Curse

That means players still won't be able to dunk on the goal post, use outside props (even if it's to call your mom to tell her you scored) or do any "Key & Peele"-style end zone thrusting.

Goodell said the league wanted to "allow players more room to have fun after they make big plays."

But it's also possible the NFL realized there's nothing it can do to stop Rob Gronkowski from dancing. 

Blue Whales Weren't Always The Giants They Are Today

17 hours 34 min ago

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Blue whales are the biggest animals ever to live on Earth. But according to a new study, they only got that way recently.

Researchers examined whale skulls and found that their large size only showed up in the family tree about 2 to 3 million years ago at the beginning of an ice age.

"We live in a time of giants right now," said Nick Pyenson, curator of fossil marine mammals at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. "The whales we have today are substantially bigger than anything we find in the fossil record."

The team says the whales' larger size was likely due to increasing ice sheets in the Northern Hemisphere. More ice meant more runoff, carrying nutrients into the ocean and boosting food supply in certain locations and at specific times of the year.

SEE MORE: Why Do Whales Beach Themselves? Scientists Have A Few Theories

"It makes sense if you're a large baleen whale to be even larger to make efficient use of that distinct dense quantity of prey," Pyenson said. "Being very large allows you not just to make good on that prey patch when you find it, but also allows you to migrate very long distances to undertake that kind of feeding style."

But the blue whale isn't done growing. A 2011 study found whales are still getting bigger.

The scientists behind this latest study say they hope their findings will shed light on the survival of this species — especially in the age of humans.

"Looking at the fossil record gives us this view over large periods of time that is incredibly important right now, because the planet is changing in geologic scales and rates within human lifetimes," Pyenson said. "The past can provide us with windows into the possible states of the future."

Slain College Student Honored At What Would've Been His Graduation

Tue, 05/23/2017 - 23:29

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Richard Collins III was honored during what would have been his college graduation from Bowie State University on Tuesday. 

Collins' graduation gown was draped over a chair in the front row during Bowie's ceremony in his memory. 

Bowie State offered a moment of silence for the slain student during the graduation. 

Collins was stabbed Saturday by a University of Maryland student while visiting the college's campus.  

SEE MORE: Trayvon Martin Will Be Given A College Degree

The suspect was arrested at the scene and has been charged with first-degree murder. 

The FBI is investigating the killing as a possible hate crime. The suspect is a member of a Facebook group called the "Alt Reich: Nation." University of Maryland police called the stabbing "unprovoked." 

The Collins family was seated in the front row during the ceremony to accept his diploma. Collins was set to graduate with a degree in business administration with plans to serve his country in the U.S. Army. 

"One of our graduates in the prime of his life has fallen victim to an unprovoked assault. Yet one more manifestation of the senseless violence permeating our society. ... I'm praying God's comfort for his family and for all of us who are in mourning," the Bowie State University president said. 

Part Of The Philippines Is Now Under Martial Law

Tue, 05/23/2017 - 23:28

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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has declared martial law following a terrorist attack in the country.

Government officials said martial law will be in effect for the next 60 days and covers the entire island of Mindanao.

Government forces are currently battling a terrorist group linked to ISIS, which has attacked parts of Marawi City. At least three government troops have been killed in the fighting.

SEE MORE: Rodrigo Duterte And Pope Francis Share A Stance On This Issue

Duterte cut short his trip to Russia in response to the attack. His home city of Davao, where he served as mayor before winning the presidency, is in the region now under martial law.

Duterte has faced international criticism for his violent approach to tackling the illegal drug trade. A few days before the attack, he hinted that he might use martial law to deal with both terrorism and drug trafficking.

"If I declare martial law in Mindanao, I will solve all that ails the island. ... There will be no guarantee that it will not last until the end of my term," Duterte said.

Russia Probe Mounts: 3 Intelligence Directors Testify Before Congress

Tue, 05/23/2017 - 23:17

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Three top intelligence officials testified before Congress on Tuesday, and members of Congress pushed for more answers on the Russia probe. 

"I don't have sufficient information to make a determination whether or not such cooperation or complicity or collusion was taking place. But I know that there was a basis to have individuals pull those threads," former CIA Director John Brennan said. 

Brennan, who left his post in January, told the House Intelligence Committee that his agency knew about Russia's attempts to influence the presidential election back in 2016. He also noted contacts between Russians and associates of Donald Trump, but stopped short of claiming the two worked together. 

"I was aware of intelligence and information of contacts between Russian officials and U.S. persons that raised concerns, in my mind, about whether or not those individuals were cooperating with the Russians, either in a witting or unwitting fashion, and that served as the basis for the FBI investigation into whether such collusion, cooperation occurred," Brennan said. 

Rep. Trey Gowdy summarized Brennan's testimony: "You saw something that led you to refer it to law enforcement. And in your judgment, it's up to law enforcement to test, probe, corroborate, contradict, otherwise investigate the full nature of that information you passed on. Is that a fair way to put it?" 

"Yes, it is," Brennan said. 

"It's not CIA's job to make a determination whether or not a U.S. person is cooperating, colluding or whatever in some type of criminal or illegal manner. It is our responsibility to give the bureau everything that they need in order to follow that path and make such a determination or recommendation if they want to press charges," Brennan said. 

Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee. He was one of the two intelligence directors who Trump reportedly asked to publicly deny collusion between his campaign and Russia, according to The Washington Post. When Sen. John McCain asked about the report, Coats declined to answer. 

"As the president's principal intelligence adviser, I'm fortunate to be able, indeed, to spend a significant amount of time with the president discussing national security interests and intelligence as it relates to those interests," Coats said. "I have always believed that, given the nature of my position and the information which we share, it's not appropriate for me to comment publicly on any of that."

The other official was Adm. Michael Rogers, director of the National Security Agency. His testimony before a Senate subcommittee touched on Russia's interference in the election, but he wasn't asked about Trump's alleged request in the first round of questioning.

SEE MORE: Democrats To Committee Chair: We Need Answers About Michael Flynn

Trump is in the middle of his first foreign trip as president. He addressed Arab and Muslim leaders in Saudi Arabia before visiting Israel. On Tuesday, Trump landed in Italy. He's scheduled to meet with the pope and Italian leaders. 

NFL Hall Of Fame Defensive Tackle Cortez Kennedy Has Died At 48

Tue, 05/23/2017 - 21:06

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NFL Hall of Fame defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy has died. He was 48.

Kennedy played 11 seasons for the Seattle Seahawks, making eight Pro Bowls. He was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1992.

Kennedy was drafted third overall in 1990 out of the University of Miami. While in college, he was part of the Hurricanes' 1989 national championship team.

His first coach in college, Jimmy Johnson, said Kennedy was one of the most talented players he'd ever coached and remembered him as a fun-loving person.

The NFL community was shocked by his sudden death, which led some to wonder if his NFL career may have adversely affected his health.

"Any time somebody in the NFL dies at this young age, it shines a spotlight on the sport and the dangers of the sport. ... And people are going to want to know if anything was wrong with him, if he suffered any irreparable damage from playing the sport of football as long as he did at the level he did," ESPN NFL reporter Adam Schefter said.

Orlando police are investigating but said "there is nothing suspicious to report" about Kennedy's death.

The Eastern Black Rhinoceros Has Officially Returned To Rwanda

Tue, 05/23/2017 - 19:47

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Eastern black rhinoceroses have returned to Rwanda. It's been 10 years since they were last seen in the country.

Eighteen of the endangered species were moved about 2,500 miles by cargo plane from South Africa to their new home at Akagera National Park.

SEE MORE: Poachers Broke Into A French Zoo And Killed A Rhino For Its Horns

In the 1970s, more than 50 black rhinos lived in the park, but their population shrank due to poaching.

The park has hired anti-poaching units and rhino-tracking teams to keep its new residents safe. And every little bit helps: Experts estimate there are only about 1,000 eastern black rhinos left in the wild.

But Akagera seems to be a promising place for savanna dwellers. Seven lions were introduced there in 2015, and their population doubled by 2016.

Trump's Budget Proposal Is Based On Some Pretty Optimistic Assumptions

Tue, 05/23/2017 - 19:38

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President Donald Trump released his proposed budget Tuesday.

And it didn't take long for critics to point out that it's based on pretty optimistic assumptions.

The Trump budget anticipates 3 percent economic growth by 2021, producing about $2 trillion in additional revenue.

The director of the Office of Management and Budget told reporters that kind of growth is achievable.

But economists say that number just isn't realistic, even under the best circumstances.

SEE MORE: Trump's Budget Would Make It Harder To Clean Up Highly Polluted Sites

"They are very optimistic. They're talking about 3 percent growth for the long-run future, and we haven't seen 3 percent growth for a long time," said Alice Rivlin, former vice chair of the Federal Reserve and founding director of the Congressional Budget Office.

Three out of the last four U.S. presidents averaged annual GDP growth around 2 percent or less.

And data from the Federal Reserve predicts a long-term annual growth of just 1.8 percent.

Congress is expected to draft its own budget soon. And experts say they won't be surprised if lawmakers set aside Trump's proposal during that process.

Instagram Might Not Be Great For Young People's Mental Health

Tue, 05/23/2017 - 19:24

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Instagram could be really, really bad for young people's mental health. 

public health education group in England recently looked at how five major social media sites impact things like anxiety, depression and body image.

YouTube was the only site young people said had a net positive impact on their health.

But they reported Instagram had the most negative average impact on well-being.

Those surveyed said Instagram made them feel worse about their body images and led to a lack of sleep and increased FOMO, or fear of missing out. 

SEE MORE: In Obvious News: Social Media Sharing Is All About Your Social Cred

One specific contributor could be body-enhancing filters often used on Instagram. One user said they can make girls feels "as if their bodies aren't good enough."

The researchers say studies like these are important as social media becomes more popular. A study from 2012 found social media is harder to resist than cigarettes and alcohol.

But there is some good news. Social media may help young people build communities of emotional support, be more comfortable expressing themselves and maintain relationships.

Jeff Sessions Narrows The Scope Of One Of Trump's Executive Orders

Tue, 05/23/2017 - 19:03

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions has provided the Trump administration's first official definition of so-called "sanctuary cities."

In a memo released Monday, Sessions defined them as cities or towns that "willfully refuse to comply" with a 1996 federal law. That law requires local, state and federal governments to provide information on any individual's immigration status.

Sessions' new definition is in response to President Trump's executive order that attempted to strip funding from sanctuary cities. But that order was pretty vague, and now we have a better picture of what money is at stake. 

Sessions began taking steps to revoke federal grants from nine jurisdictions last month, including Chicago, Philadelphia and New York City. 

Representatives for each city say they've been complying with federal law. 

Shortly afterward, a U.S. district court judge blocked part of the executive order, saying the threat to take away all federal funds could be unconstitutional. 

SEE MORE: Attorney General Sessions Undoes Obama-Era Drug Policy

Sessions' memo also addresses that judge's decision. He makes it clear that the sanctuary cities would only lose federal grants issued by the Department of Justice and the Department of Homeland Security. 

Sessions does note that in the future, the Department of Justice could "impose additional conditions" on jurisdictions or "tailor grants to promote a lawful system of immigration."

Climate Change Is Melting The Arctic Ice Out From Under Our Buildings

Tue, 05/23/2017 - 16:39

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We've built everything from roads to pipelines to nuclear power stations on the cold ground at the top of the world. But climate change means ice is melting, and permafrost is getting less permanent.

In Greenland, melting ice is expected to expose an old U.S. military base — and the radioactive waste that's buried under the snow.

"They thought it would snow in perpetuity," arctic researcher William Colgan told NPR. "And the phrase they used was that the waste would be preserved for eternity by perpetually accumulating snow."

In Svalbard, in the Arctic Ocean, there's a bunker holding a huge catalog of Earth's seeds — a so-called "insurance policy for the world's food supply."

The permafrost is supposed to keep it cold and isolated, even if the power cuts out. But it's been raining instead of snowing due to the warming climate, and the vault was never planned with flooding in mind.

SEE MORE: What Melting Arctic Ice Sheets Could Do To The World's Ocean Currents

Entire cities in the Arctic Circle are engineered to take advantage of permafrost. Now they're cracking and sinking. In Norilsk, Russia, builders didn't account for the possibility of climate change making their foundations unstable. Whole apartment buildings are being condemned.

These changes were unexpected, but we can still address them. Officials in Norway say they're waterproofing the seed vault. Scientists in the European Union built a database to track what permafrost is melting and when.

And we should be able to prevent some melting outright. The steps we take to cut emissions and counter climate change will slow down the arctic thaw.

Trump Went Off-Script In His Speech About Terrorism

Tue, 05/23/2017 - 16:01

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The White House had some explaining to do after President Donald Trump's speech Sunday.

"There is still much work to be done," Trump said. "That means honestly confronting the crisis of Islamic extremism and the Islamists and Islamic terror of all kinds."

Calling out extremism or terror by themselves wasn't the problem.

"You can only unlock this future if the citizens of the Middle East are freed from extremism, terror and violence." 

But analysts are noting "Islamic" and "Islamist" mean two very different things, especially to Muslim-majority leaders.

SEE MORE: Trump In Saudi Arabia: 'This Is Not A Battle Between Different Faiths'

"Islamic" is a term for the faith as a whole. "Islamist" is political in nature and used to describe efforts to implement Islamic law.

Analysts say "Islamist terrorism" is less offensive because it implies the violence is happening for political gains. On the other hand, they say "Islamic terrorism" sounds to many like you're saying the religion itself lends to violence.

The prepared speech had Trump saying "Islamist terror" and "Islamist extremism," but he deviated from the script.

A White House official blamed the mix-up on exhaustion.

During the presidential campaign, Trump criticized the Obama administration for refusing to use terms like "radical Islamic terrorism."

But President Barack Obama argued the phrase "radical Islam" was just a political talking point and called using the phrase dangerous.

'James Bond' Actor Sir Roger Moore Dies At 89

Tue, 05/23/2017 - 15:41

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English actor Sir Roger Moore has died. He was 89 years old.

According to his children, Moore passed away in Switzerland after a "short but brave battle with cancer."

Moore was best known for playing James Bond in seven of the iconic films, including "Live and Let Die" and "The Spy Who Loved Me."

SEE MORE: Who Should Play James Bond Next?

He also starred in hit TV shows like "The Saint" and "The Persuaders."

Moore devoted a lot of his time to philanthropy. He became a UNICEF goodwill ambassador in 1991. 

And in 2003, he was knighted for his charity work.

Moore is survived by his wife and three children. His funeral will be held in Monaco.

A New Director Will Finish The Upcoming 'Justice League' Movie

Tue, 05/23/2017 - 14:36

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Filmmaker Zack Snyder is stepping away from the upcoming "Justice League" movie.

The director told The Hollywood Reporter he attempted to get back to work on the superhero movie shortly after his 20-year-old daughter took her own life earlier this year. But he's now realized he needs to be with his family.

"In my mind, I thought it was a cathartic thing to go back to work, to just bury myself and see if that was the way through it. The demands of this job are pretty intense. It is all-consuming," Snyder told The Hollywood Reporter.

Snyder's wife, Deborah, who is a producer on "Justice League," is also stepping back from the film.

The couple have seven other children and stepchildren. Zack Snyder's daughter was his child from a previous marriage.

Snyder is a key player in Warner Bros.' superhero movie universe. He previously directed "Man of Steel" and last year's "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice."

"Justice League," which stars Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot and Ezra Miller, is currently in post-production. But Snyder had planned to film a couple of additional scenes.

SEE MORE: Can Josh Brolin Play 2 Different Marvel Characters?

So, Joss Whedon will be taking over.

He's well-known as the creator of the "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" TV series. Whedon also directed "The Avengers" and "Avengers: Age of Ultron" and was recently tapped by Warner Bros. to write and direct a Batgirl movie as part of its DC Extended Universe.

Warner Bros. still plans to release "Justice League" in November.

It Seems President Trump Wants To Keep Moving On The Border Wall

Tue, 05/23/2017 - 14:35

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The Trump administration has finalized its budget proposal, and the president wants to keep moving on the border project.

The latest proposal is reportedly asking for $2.6 billion to go toward border security. $1.6 billion will go toward "bricks and mortar," and another $1 billion will go for things like surveillance technology, weapons and other equipment.

The dollar amount is the same as the budget blueprint rolled out in March, but the revised plan allocates specific funds for building materials.

But some estimates have put the full cost of the border at more than $21 billion. It's not really clear where that money would come from.

SEE MORE: More And More Migrant Kids Are Crossing Borders Alone

In addition to border funds, the budget will reportedly request $300 million for hiring new border agents and customs officers. 

President Donald Trump wants to hire 15,000 new agents, but according to CNN, the $300 million would likely only cover 500 new border patrol agents and 1,000 new Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers.

Here's Just How Many Displaced People There Were In 2016

Tue, 05/23/2017 - 13:32

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Last year, for almost each second that passed, a person had to flee their home.

According to a new estimate, that's more than 31 million people — an increase from 2015.

The reasons people were displaced include natural disasters, conflict and other violence.

SEE MORE: Rag Dolls Offer Hope And Memories For These Young Refugee Sisters

But internally displaced persons — or IDPs — are often trapped in their own countries. They face intense risks like sexual assault, lack of food and no proper shelter.

IDPs often don't get the same international efforts and attention as people facing other issues, despite the numbers.

But advocacy groups say recognizing why conflicts spread and investing long term, rather than focusing on just the issues at hand, would help with displacement.

Democrats To Committee Chair: We Need Answers About Michael Flynn

Tue, 05/23/2017 - 02:39

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Democrats in the House are demanding action over former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who reportedly lied about his foreign connections to obtain security clearance. 

The House Oversight Committee's top Democrat, Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings, sent a seven-page letter to committee chairman Jason Chaffetz. Cummings cites a 2016 Pentagon report that claims Flynn didn't disclose various paid dealings with Russia and other foreign countries — like his appearance at this event sponsored by Russian state-funded media.

That's relevant because Chaffetz put blame on the Obama administration for failing to properly vet Flynn back in 2016, rather than President Donald Trump or the current administration. 

SEE MORE: Special Counsel Overseeing Russia Probe Could Face Ethics Challenge

"It was the Obama White House that this would have fallen under," Chaffetz told MSNBC's Greta Van Susteren. "I don't think what happened here is really the fault of Donald Trump."

Cummings' letter urges Chaffetz to subpoena White House officials for documents relating to Flynn's dealings with foreign countries. Chaffetz has said he is stepping down before the end of his term and is expected to leave Congress at the end of June.

Trump Reportedly Asked Intel Chiefs To Deny Evidence In Russia Probe

Tue, 05/23/2017 - 01:54

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President Donald Trump reportedly asked two of the nation's top intelligence officials to deny there was any evidence of collusion between his campaign and Russia in 2016.

The Washington Post reports the president asked the director of national intelligence and the director of the National Security Agency to make a statement publicly. 

But both refused and reportedly thought the request was inappropriate. The nation's intelligence agencies are supposed to be nonpartisan entities. 

SEE MORE: Multiple Congressional Committees Want Comey's FBI Memos And Testimony

In March, former FBI Director James Comey told the House intel committee the FBI was investigating possible links between the Trump campaign and Russia.

One senior intelligence official told The Washington Post that Trump was hoping to "muddy the waters" about the FBI probe.

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